Production Apex - 15L portable watercooled build

nero626

Trash Compacter
Original poster
Dec 8, 2016
50
175
I've started this project in ~December 2016, never got around to start a thread here, after lurking around for a while I have decided to finally log my build, it's gonna be a fun ride!

The idea behind this build is to make a semi-portable system for school, my university has a co-op program which alternates between study term and co-op term every 4 months, carrying my 40lb Phanteks Evolv mATX around every few months is not fun.

I went all out on this build, most of them were purchased on Black Friday / Boxing day.
Parts:
- i7 6700k
- Asus z170i
- Corsair Vengeance LPX 2x8 2400
- EVGA GTX 1080 SC
- Corsair SF600
- EK KIT S240
- EK CoolStream SE 120
- EK FC1080
- LianLi 30cm riser

Few design goals for this build are:
Desk space - The actual footprint of the case on a desk should be as small as possible, with the width being the most important, I don't really mind the height. This is not going to be one of those super tiny 4L build, but rather trying to squeeze and use space as efficiently as possible while fulfilling the rest of the requirements below.

Cooling / Acoustics - I hate noisy and hot systems, my current PC has a 980ti (will be passing onto my friend), on full load it is around 78c at 50% fan curve, the fan whine is pretty noisy when I am not wearing headphones. I want to trying something new (first time building a custom loop) and hopefully benefit from it noise and heat wise, from what I read 240mm is minimum for a full loop, with 360mm being better.

Ease of building - As it suggests, everything should be as laid out and easy to access as possible, nothing should be blocking other parts e.g. psu over the cpu etc.

Aesthetics - The thing with a lot of really packed cases is that they tend to have everything enclosed, not being able to show the beauty of the parts. Of course a lot of those cases itself are very pretty, I really like the NCASE, but having the bare grills covering everything isn't my cup of tea.

Handle - A carrying handle for taking this thing around duh!

The mobo / gpu layout is borrowed from DAN Case A4, and I messed around with the placement of the PSU, fans, the case will be built with 2020 v-slots and acrylic.

Design / Renders:
First few iterations, mostly just for brainstorming




Getting closer..



I really liked the angular design, unfortunately it doesn't really make sense from the durability and practicality stand point.

Finalized design:


Side by side comparison with my current case:


Current size: 310x290x165mm, just under 15L

To be continued...
 

nero626

Trash Compacter
Original poster
Dec 8, 2016
50
175
Unfortunately I didn't take much photos up to this point, I'll just have to post what I have, but I'll make sure to get more photos from now on!

Had to cut the extrusion by hand... it was pretty brutal but the finish was great.



Top plate lasercut:


With the bottom attached: (also slippers on bed for scale yikes)


Beside my evolv:


The perspective make it appears bigger than it is.. it's much smaller in every dimension.
 

Ceros_X

King of Cable Management
Mar 8, 2016
746
652
Looking good so far! I have never wanted to do water cooled because I never wanted to try and fly with one, if you're just driving I am sure it'll be fine though. I didn't see any feet in the renders, I'd start looking at those as you'll obviously need some clearance under the bottom of the case to allow air exhaust/intake. Sure you've already considered it, just wanted to point it out.

Keep us posted!
 
  • Like
Reactions: nero626

LukeD

Master of Cramming
Case Designer
Jun 29, 2016
425
1,150
Awesome start man. I'd be very interested to see if travelling with a water-cooled PC will get you stopped at the border (excess of 100ml of liquid).
Nonetheless its going to be very interesting to see what you come up with.
Good luck :)
 
  • Like
Reactions: nero626

Brokoii

Caliper Novice
Jan 11, 2017
31
30
Very nice looking build!
I have never wanted to do water cooled because I never wanted to try and fly with one, if you're just driving I am sure it'll be fine though.
Do you mean because of customs or because something may get damaged and ruin your pc
 

Ceros_X

King of Cable Management
Mar 8, 2016
746
652
Very nice looking build!

Do you mean because of customs or because something may get damaged and ruin your pc
Per the Transportation Safety Administration:
"Liquids Rule. You are allowed to bring a quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes in your carry-on bag and through the checkpoint. These are limited to travel-sized containers that are 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item."

You could fly with a water cooled PC but you'd probably have to drain the loop before flying or risk them not allowing your $1-2k machine not making it on the flight (or worse, them trying to make you check it under the plane...). Even if you could fly with a filled loop, I personally would be a little hesitant because you are throwing it up in an overhead bin, etc and subjecting it to more stress than normal.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Soul_Est and Phuncz

nero626

Trash Compacter
Original poster
Dec 8, 2016
50
175
Looking good so far! I have never wanted to do water cooled because I never wanted to try and fly with one, if you're just driving I am sure it'll be fine though. I didn't see any feet in the renders, I'd start looking at those as you'll obviously need some clearance under the bottom of the case to allow air exhaust/intake. Sure you've already considered it, just wanted to point it out.

Keep us posted!
Thanks! For the feet I just got some square rubber feets atm, I will be using some of those hi-fi feets at some point though, since the bottom plate are held on by 4 M5 screws I'm pretty sure there are plenty of M5 feets out there. Where do people usually get theirs?
 

Phuncz

Lord of the Boards
Editorial Staff
Moderator
Gold Supporter
May 9, 2015
4,423
3,956
A very interesting design, I can't wait to see more ! But as people have mentioned, there is the problem of transporting liquids in the US on planes. If it's on the train or by car, that's not really a problem though and you can ignore it. The sharp edges do look nice but I'm expecting it to chew up upholstery and human skin like a hungry vampire.
 

Josh | NFC

Not From Concentrate
NFC Systems
Silver Supporter
Jun 12, 2015
1,849
4,363
www.nfc-systems.com
@nero626 I think you are onto something here. I love your take on Dan's layout and the unique freedome of your open design. Plus, it seems sturdy.

I was thinking your cover panels are *almost* there but I would consider some tuning, but when I thought about it some more I think if you slightly soften the edges and if you just make them out of a high quality cell cast acrylic and bend it it will be VERY strong and not the least bit sharp. You can build yourself a really good bender for under 100 bucks. I was surprised actually how spot on my acrylic bends were with my hastily made jig.

I don't want to hijack your thread so I will just give you a link instead of embedding images.

The point is I had never bent acrylic before and I was scared of my compound curve that needed to have functional holes alligned, but with some door hinges, low profile iron channel, scrap wood, and a heating element I got it accurate as it needed to be for all the holes to line up!


(aka, it is really easy!)



Peace and will love to see the ending.
 

nero626

Trash Compacter
Original poster
Dec 8, 2016
50
175
@nero626 I think you are onto something here. I love your take on Dan's layout and the unique freedome of your open design. Plus, it seems sturdy.

I was thinking your cover panels are *almost* there but I would consider some tuning, but when I thought about it some more I think if you slightly soften the edges and if you just make them out of a high quality cell cast acrylic and bend it it will be VERY strong and not the least bit sharp. You can build yourself a really good bender for under 100 bucks. I was surprised actually how spot on my acrylic bends were with my hastily made jig.

I don't want to hijack your thread so I will just give you a link instead of embedding images.

The point is I had never bent acrylic before and I was scared of my compound curve that needed to have functional holes alligned, but with some door hinges, low profile iron channel, scrap wood, and a heating element I got it accurate as it needed to be for all the holes to line up!


(aka, it is really easy!)



Peace and will love to see the ending.
Thanks! That build is very slick, how thick is the acrylic? I actually looked at a couple of DIY acrylic benders before and I was very tempted to make one, I kind of got all the parts figured out but I just didn't pull the trigger to buy em, coz I thought it was lower priority compared to the actual structure so I put that off until the rig is mostly done.. We will see later on! And yeah this case right now is extremely sturdy, I can sit on it (150lb) without any flex haha, good for travelling or LAN parties
 

Brokoii

Caliper Novice
Jan 11, 2017
31
30
Per the Transportation Safety Administration:
"Liquids Rule. You are allowed to bring a quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes in your carry-on bag and through the checkpoint. These are limited to travel-sized containers that are 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item."

You could fly with a water cooled PC but you'd probably have to drain the loop before flying or risk them not allowing your $1-2k machine not making it on the flight (or worse, them trying to make you check it under the plane...). Even if you could fly with a filled loop, I personally would be a little hesitant because you are throwing it up in an overhead bin, etc and subjecting it to more stress than normal.
I just asked TSA and they said that liquid cooled desktop PCs are no problem if they are small enough to fit in carry-on luggage (Yeeeessss). Sorry for the OT-posts
 

nero626

Trash Compacter
Original poster
Dec 8, 2016
50
175
I just asked TSA and they said that liquid cooled desktop PCs are no problem if they are small enough to fit in carry-on luggage (Yeeeessss). Sorry for the OT-posts
That's interesting, I'm assuming it's AIO though? Otherwise people could fill whatever they want in the res and defeats the purpose of the safety regulation haha.
I would probably drain the loop anyways if I were to bring it on a plane though, the extra weight and the vibration just makes me uneasy especially on a hard-tube loop
 
  • Like
Reactions: Kwirek

Ceros_X

King of Cable Management
Mar 8, 2016
746
652
All depends if the TSA agent inspecting you thinks it is allowed, much like cops knowing gun laws. If you do intend to try and take it make sure you leave plenty of time to make it through screening i.e. call the TSA or talk to a supervisor.

Sorry for the derail!
 
  • Like
Reactions: Phuncz and Brokoii

CC Ricers

Shrink Way Wielder
Nov 1, 2015
1,669
1,742
Following this. I love cases made with T-slot extrusions. I currently don't have a watercooled PC but this is a layout that's not done much, and at 15L I am also more tempted to do watercooling given the chance.
 

nero626

Trash Compacter
Original poster
Dec 8, 2016
50
175
Update 1/19/2017 - Mid plates for mobo and GPU!

This time I'm using 4.5mm instead of 3 because I'm worried that the weight of the waterblock and res will flex the plates more than I would like



looks pretty good

Ooops... 6mm thread seems to be too short for 4.5mm plates.. I should either reduce the plate thickness back to 3 or get longer thread standoffs..

Anyways, test fitting the rest





Everything else looks fine, the mobo plate will be mounted onto the gpu plate using 20mm stand offs so they support each other, and I somehow messed up the holes for the pump mount haha.. right now it's being held by 2 screws, pretty stable, still I might try to recut everything with 3mm sheets and fix the holes though :oops:
 

Phuncz

Lord of the Boards
Editorial Staff
Moderator
Gold Supporter
May 9, 2015
4,423
3,956
Oh wow this is already looking really good ! Can't wait to see more !
 
  • Like
Reactions: WadeAK78

nero626

Trash Compacter
Original poster
Dec 8, 2016
50
175
Update 1/23/2017 - Re-cut gpu and mobo plates, test fitting components

Second time's a charm, re did the plates with 3mm sheets, everything fits perfectly!!

Cutting to the meat of the matter, with the pump and mobo mounted:


With the riser installed

The lian-li riser is quite stiff, I might need to make a comb or maybe use a fan grill to stop it from hitting or blocking the fan blades.

Was feeling it so I installed the ram and cpu.. why not




Well you may ask, how the heck am I going to mount the gpu?




I measured the mounting holes of the waterblock and mirrored the holes except for the 4 holes around the gpu core, and created what is essentially a giant backplate which is then mounted directly onto the chassis.

One of the benefit of doing this is that if I am moving this around there will be 0 chance of flexing the pcb too hard, as the waterblock is actually super heavy, if it is supporting its own weight by fixing it onto the chassis itself, it should be much more secure. However, when I am changing GPU I would need to create a new backplate. Since this is a one off custom project I think this is worth it, and I won't be upgrading any time soon (hopefully 2+ years)

Thanks for reading!!
 

ricochet

SFF AFFLICTED
Oct 20, 2016
547
345
Very nice progress indeed! Have you considered adding some vent/breathing holes on the m/b mount plate to improve cooling for a rear slotted m.2 ssd?
 

nero626

Trash Compacter
Original poster
Dec 8, 2016
50
175
Very nice progress indeed! Have you considered adding some vent/breathing holes on the m/b mount plate to improve cooling for a rear slotted m.2 ssd?
That's a good point, for now I'm not planning on getting one yet, so far I'm pretty happy with my hyperx 3k 2.5", which is mounted behind the mobo tray, but then when m.2 ssd prices drop I might have to consider that.. :)